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Chicago personal injury lawyerThe actions motorists take can often contribute to the severity of their injuries in the event of a collision. Refusing to wear a seat belt is a classic example. At Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, we routinely field questions about whether the refusal to wear a seat belt will harm a person’s personal injury lawsuit. In particular, accident victims want to know whether the seat belt defense is valid in Illinois.

Why the Seat Belt Defense Matters

Illinois recognizes the concept of comparative fault. Under this concept, a motorist cannot receive compensation if he or she is “more” at fault for an accident than all defendants combined. Put simply, a victim can be up to 50 percent responsible for their injuries—but not more—to collect compensation.

Failure to wear a seat belt probably sounds like a form of negligence. After all, seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of injury and save lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing a seat belt reduces the number of serious injuries by approximately 50 percent. In one year alone (2016), seat belts saved approximately 15,000 lives. Furthermore, wearing a seat belt is the law in our state. Everyone ages 8 or older must buckle up, even if the car is equipped with airbags.

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